By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH — Yes, Jessica Colgan-Snyder has a mustache. It's OK for you to look at it, it's even OK with her if you point and laugh. It's especially OK if you want to stop and ask her about it.
In fact, that's the whole point of her lip shade – she started sporting her 'stache about seven years ago as part of a group effort to start conversations and raise funds to help send children to summer camp on Lake Winnipesaukee.
Colgan-Snyder, and her husband, Garrett, own and operate Camp Hawkeye, a summer camp in Moultonborough that they started together in 2005. Camp Hawkeye offers traditional summer camp activities but with a novel twist. Their camp is dedicated to providing the summer camp experience to every kind of child – Hawkeye's campers come from all socioeconomic backgrounds, from all types of neighborhoods, from many religious traditions, from differing family situations and from various places around the world.
Those campers all come to Moultonborough, for anywhere from two to eight weeks, to learn and play together, and to build friendships in the face of these differences.
To help make that possible, about a third of the campers are offered a scholarship to attend, which means that that Jessica and Garrett, and the non-profit they work with, have to raise $80,000 each year for campers that otherwise wouldn't be able to attend. That's why she adorns her upper lip each April.
"Seven years ago, my husband was with some of his guy friends on a hiking trip," she said. On the hike, Garrett was discussing the challenge of raising enough money each year to serve their mission. One of the friends suggested the "'Stache for Cash" idea, where the group would sprout a mustache each April 1 through May 1, and whenever someone commented on the facial hair, they could steer the conversation toward the need for camp scholarship funds, and how they can contribute.
There are five men, plus Jessica, who wear a mustache each April as part of the effort. As a group, they aim to raise $10,000 for scholarships. Jessica, who started with a stage mustache but switched to a temporary tattoo when her first child came along three years ago, consistently collects more than her male counterparts. She wears her mustache wherever she goes, and takes every opportunity to suggest people visit www.crowdrise.com/stache-for-cash-2017/fundraiser/jessicacolgansnyder, or follow her on Instagram at @jcs_stache.
Despite the whimsical sight of the blond Colgan-Snyder with a black mustache, not everyone is is amused to see her. Some have interpreted her mustache as a mockery of women who naturally grow facial hair, or as an offensive transgression of gender norms.
Those are rare exceptions, though. The vast majority of people don't say anything. Mustachioed men tend to be most tickled by her April appearance.
"Kids are the most honest – 'That lady has a mustache!'" she said she often hears. To her amusement, the child's mother often shushes her child, "As if I don't know I have a mustache."
"It's a really good social experiment," she said.
Jessica Colgan-Snyder, shown at the Hannaford supermarket in Meredith, with her 6-month old son, Huxley, wears a mustache every April as a way to raise funds for summer camp scholarships. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)
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